NaNoWriMo is finally over, yay! Did you finish? Did you get to 50K…or more? Even if you didn’t but you still started a writing habit, congrats! That’s a big deal.
Now that the highs and lows of a writing marathon are over, what’s next?
My favorite part…editing! But one can’t simply jump into editing. There are steps to take. If you’re planning to work with a professional, this will save you a lot of energy and time (and time equals money) in the future.
Adding scenes is the focus here.
Once you add scenes, you’ll have to weave the new elements into the existing ones. You can do this as you go, or you can wait and do it after. Honestly, I usually shuffle between weaving as I go and waiting until several scenes are added. It depends on my mood. Maybe I’m feeling more linear one day; other times skipping around is a necessity. (Can’t forget to change that, better do it now!)
Now the hard part. Well, technically it’s easier, but it’s harder emotionally.
Delete scenes. Yeah, I warned ya. Before you roll your eyes and close the page, hear me out. Unnecessary scenes bog down a story and give away the mystery.
Anytime you have an entire scene that meets the following criteria, let it go:
- Planning/discussing—your characters are sitting around discussing what just happened or what’s going to happen, or they’re driving (walking, flying, teleporting, having coffee, whatever) and talking with no new information revealed to the reader.
- Too much information is given away—the bad guy is called out, a reaction is given immediately after an event, or everything is resolved from the scene before.
While the easy part of this is to highlight the scene and then hit delete, I encourage you to move the offending scene to a separate document. There might be some good stuff in there! Maybe nothing happens except for backstory. That backstory can be sprinkled into other scenes, as necessary. The scene may even useful somewhere else in the story.
Speaking of deleting…if there are paragraphs or pages in other scenes that meet the above criteria, do the same and let it go. Then smooth it all out by making sure there are transitions where needed.
Now you have a solid foundation.
The last step is to hit on the details. Start big and get smaller with each pass. Some bigger issues to consider:
- Showing instead of telling
- Character consistency
- Progression of emotion
Some smaller details to work on:
- Sentence structure
- Dialogue tags
- Word choice
All of this takes carefully going through your manuscript several times. As tedious as it is, you mustn’t skim over it. I promise the results are worth it.
Because everyone needs another set of eyes on their work, once the revisions are done, it’s time to send it to a developmental editor. There are probably some issues you don’t realize are a concern. There can be a disconnect between what’s in your head and what ends up on the page. This happens to EVERYONE. No exceptions. Even J.K. Rowling and James Patterson need developmental editors and copyeditors.
I’ve also found that authors have the most disconnect when they’re “done” with a piece. They may have worked on it nonstop for months or years and can no longer see the words for the pages. It’s important to take breaks from time to time.
When your breaks are over and you’ve got it as polished as possible with the tips above, shoot me an email! I have an array of services to choose from that can meet your needs and level of experience.
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